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The Goodbye!
By Randall Davis Barfield   


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I told you I’d talk about Esau, my first boyfriend. For a long time I couldn’t tell anybody about him. Tears would flood my eyes at the mere mention of his name. It took a long time for that hurt to go away.

But it did finally. And, eventually, I found a new love. He’s my husband at present. Bert. We had three kids and now they have kids, so, life is anything but dull around here. You know what I mean: Grandma, can I have a sandwich? Grandma, when are we gonna eat the cake you baked? Grandma, do you have any Band-Aids? I love you, Grandma.

Anyway, the goodbye was the last time I saw Esau. I was only nineteen. What was he? Twenty? Something like that. I was headed back East to college. He didn’t want me to go, of course. I didn’t truly want to go either, but, I just couldn’t disappoint daddy. He’d had his heart set on my going East to study for so long. He’d saved up for it. Thanks to those cows and steers of his. And mama supported him.

Esau had driven the two of us to a spot in the woods. Where we’d have our picnic and say goodbye. Boy, were we two sad ones! But I tried to make light of the situation. I joked, poked him, and whatnot.

The meal was delicious and it was a pretty day, so, there wasn’t a lot that was missing. I didn’t know the creek was so near, but he did. He said we should swim. I knew we didn’t have any suit to swim in, but I went along with him. Anyway, I knew what I had planned to happen later.

We swam, played, kissed and hugged in the raw. In our birthday suits, some call it. Esau’s bronze colored arms were strong and fine shaped. I’d feel like part owner of Fort Knox whenever he’d grab and hug me. He said I made him feel like tracking down every rustler from here to Kansas City. Feel like collecting all that bounty. With it, we’d live on a hacienda the rest of our days. (She laughs) It was a great dream.

When we lay on a blanket on the grassy bank, I told him I was ready. I could tell he was excited, but he had to play the western gentleman, of course. And it wasn’t just play. Really, as young as Esau was, he was a gentleman. He said I didn’t have to do it. That he knew how much it meant to me. How he understood I was waiting for my marriage and so on. I said I knew all that. I said thank you, but you mean more to me. What if I never see you again?

We both thought that was unlikely, but you never knew. My plans were to stay in the East until I finished university then return here. We’d take up where we left off.

It hurt when he entered me, of course. But it was pain and pleasure at the same time. We did it at least twice. Maybe three times, I can’t be sure now. I’m just sure that that day was wonderful. Unforgettable. Any joys of paradise I had envisioned up to that time paled by comparison. Men are like democracy, I’m afraid. When you show me something better, I’ll join you.

Esau, along with my parents, siblings, and other relatives, saw me off the next morning at the station. Mama had a funny look on her face that I couldn’t figure out at first. Then I realized she knew. She knew I was now a woman. After all the tears and goodbye hugs, the train chugged off.

My graduation was approaching when I got Mama’s letter. Looking back, I see there are some letters you wish you’d never opened. She said she and Daddy would come to my graduation. They’d leave the kids with one of my aunts. Then, all three of us would return home after two or three weeks of sightseeing. Oh, she said near the end of the letter, she hated to be the bearer of bad news, but that Esau Rodriguez (she felt sure I’d remember him) had fallen from a horse in the pasture and hit his head on a rock. He died from the injury a few days later. She’d heard that he had said Belinda before he died, but she didn’t know how true it was. Could’ve been just hearsay.    



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